National Gallery of Modern Art - Delhi
Jaipur House, India Gate, 110003 New Delhi , India
January 19, 2009 - December 31, 2013
The March of Modernism
by Sophia Powers
Posted by Sophia Powers
| tags: modern painting
After ten years of construction, the new wing of India's largest and most significant museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, has finally opened, and doesn't disappoint. The inaugural show "In the Seeds of Time," traces the development of Indian modern art from pre-British miniatures to the conceptual installation work of contemporary heavyweights such as Subodh Gupta. It is really a must-see for just about anyone interested in current global art. For those who fancy themselves experts on the Indian art scene, this show offers a guided tour through canonical masterworks that have probably only before been glimpsed in photo-reproductions. (Absolutely the best of Amrita Sher-Gill Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Tyeb Mehta, F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain, and the Tagores). For burgeoning connoisseurs, there is no better place to begin.
It is true that a hall full of lauded geniuses leaves very little room for risky or surprising choices on the part of curators. This conservatism is further supported by the show's focus on the early 20th century as opposed to the 21st century, where the art historical narrative is just finding its feet. However, these are not adequate excuses for champions of the cutting-edge to cut out on the show. A major problem with the high-profile success of Indian contemporary art is that there is far too little understanding of modern Indian art history to substantially make sense of what today's artists are up to, which leaves success up to hype and auction records rather than substance. Even if you can't make it to Delhi, order a catalogue, as it is essentially the first overview textbook that traces the development of multiple modernisms in Indian art.
(Images: Bhupen Khakhar, Man with Bouquet of Plastic Flowers © courtesy of the Artist and National Gallery of Modern Art. Jarem Patel, Untitled, © courtesy of the Artist and National Gallery of Modern Art.)